Many have argued that individuals should receive income in proportion to their contribution to society. Others have believed that it would be fairer if people received income in proportion to the effort they expend in so contributing, since people have much greater control over their level of effort than their productivity. I argue that those who believe this are normally also committed, despite appearances, to increasing the social product — which undermines any sharp distinction between effort- and productivity-based distributive proposals. (...) However, effort-based proposals do emphasise more the importance of people having control over factors affecting their income. The second set of problems I consider is how to implement policies which hold true to this emphasis. I show that there are major problems with the accuracy of using any objective criteria to measure the level of effort a person is expending. Moreover, once any such criteria are employed the problem of ‘moral hazard’arises because people modify their behaviour in such a way as to maximise their income while minimising their effort. This violates the original motivation for using effort. Because of this and other empirical considerations, I argue that productivity may well be a better criterion on which to distribute income even if one is motivated by the same concerns which have prompted effort-based proposals. (shrink)
The paper corrects misrepresentations of Aquinas's understanding of divine simplicity, argues that the reasons he gives for divine simplicity are persuasive ones, and suggests how Aquinas's account of the Trinity can be used to explain how God can be said to exist necessarily. It gives an account of Aquinas's conception of form and individualised form, and shows how Plantinga's criticism of Aquinas's position on divine simplicity rests on a misunderstanding of Aquinas's notion of form. It describes and makes the case (...) for Aquinas's argument that God must be absolutely simply because he is the uncaused cause of all effects, and any real composition in things constitutes an effect. It shows that Brian Davies is mistaken in claiming that Aquinas does not hold God's existence to be logically necessary. It applies Frege's conception of existence to Aquinas's account of God's simplicity and his psychological analogy for the Trinity, in order to explain how God's existence can coherently be said to be logically necessary. (shrink)
The paper considers the objections to Christianity raised by David Lewis, which accuse Christians of immorality on the grounds of their worshipping a monstrous being who punishes finite evils by the infinite punishment of hell. It distinguishes between the objection that God is a monster because such punishment would be unjust, and the objection that even if damnation is just, God is a monster because he wills or allows the dreadful evil of hell by creating beings that can be justly (...) damned. It asserts that Aquinas’s defence of the traditional Christian doctrine of hell provides an answer to this objection. The traditional doctrine is that those who die having committed serious sins for which they have not repented will be punished by endless mental and physical suffering in hell. Aquinas argues that the endless punishment of the damned is just because the damned endlessly and freely choose evil, and that it is good because the punishment of impenitentsinners, while bad for the sinners, is good absolutely speaking. The basis for his claim that the damned freely choose evil forever is his understanding of practical reason as ultimately motivated by a choice of a particular kind of life to live, and his view that all motivations that are independent of practical reason have a physical basis. The basis for his claim that the punishment of the damned is a good thing absolutely considered is his teleological view of good and evil. The paper defends these bases and their application to the question of damnation. (shrink)
Peter Geach has claimed that St. Thomas Aquinas's first and second ways are instances of composition arguments, which argue from the parts of a thing having a property to the whole thing having that property. Such arguments are not universally valid, but are valid fr some properties. The paper examines composition arguments and the literature on them, and argues that a valid composition argument can be given for the existence of an uncaused cause of all effects.
Essays on Philosophy, Politics, & Economics offers a critical examination of economic, philosophical, and political notions, with an eye towards working across all three, so that students and scholars from can expand their perspectives as ...
In the mainstream of Latin trinitarian theology during the Middle Ages, the Divine Persons were described as subsistent relations. This conception of the persons is commonly held to this day among Roman Catholic theologians. In this paper the author examines the conception, as it is presented by St.-Thomas Aquinas, in the light of philosophical advances that have been made in our knowledge of the nature of relations. The author argues that these advances make it impossible to accept Aquinas's position that (...) the Persons are subsistent relations, although the do not rule out the possibility of their being distinguished from one another by the relations that exist between them. (shrink)
The paper considers René Descartes’ assertion that believing that God exists because the Bible says so, and believing that what the Bible says is true because God says it, involves circular reasoning. It argues that there is no circularity involved in holding these beliefs, and maintains that the appearance of circularity results from an equivocation. It considers a line of argument that would defend the rationality of holding these beliefs, but does not try to prove its soundness.
The paper considers the criticisms that Eleonore Stump has made of Richard Swinburne's account of Christian's revelation, as set out in his book "Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy." It argues that Stump's criticisms of Swinburne's theory of biblical interpretation are misguided, but that her criticism of his deistic picture of revelation contains a crucial insight. Direct theories of revelation, which see God as communicating propositions directly to believers, are superior to deistic ones, which see God as communicating propositions only to (...) an original group who then hand on the propositions to everyone else. Stump's suggested alternative to a deistic picture is flawed. A better theory would result from incorporating Swinburne's account of the Church into a direct theory, and holding that God communicates propositions directly to believers in the teaching of the Church. This position combines the insights to be found in Stump and Swinburne, while avoiding their mistakes. (shrink)
In this article I defend the claim that subsidies for university education should be substantially reduced. The normative justification for this conclusion derives from a theory of distributive justice called the Compensation Theory of Income Justice, which is most easily understood as a normative version of the positive economic theory of compensating differentials. Relying on the distinction between incentives and economic rents, and after considering two ‘received opinions’ about why large income differentials exist in modern societies, I note that substantial (...) portions of above-average incomes are likely to be artificial monopoly rents, rather than incentives or natural monopoly rents. Under the Compensation Theory of Income Justice the earning of artificial monopoly rents is not justified. Since subsidisation of university education fees increases lifetime artificial rents, the theory would recommend such subsidies be substantially reduced. I defend this conclusion against objections, the most notable of which is the view that university subsidies help to improve equality of opportunity to university education. I explain how it is possible to maintain the laudable aim of providing equality of opportunity while reducing the subsidisation and, as a consequence, the lifetime artificial rents. (shrink)